Parenting

6 Top tips for your baby’s first holiday abroad

We are finally able to look forward to holidays again…or can we? Is this your baby’s first holiday abroad? Travelling with little ones will change the concept of ”holidays” forever, or at least for a very long time! But don’t despair, going on holiday with a baby is actually quite manageable while they mainly eat and sleep. It all gets a lot more faffy later!

baby's first holiday abroad

We’ve been lucky enough to manage an annual trip between various lockdowns and restrictions. And we were so grateful after being stuck in a small flat. Many of you will be experiencing plane trips and overseas travel for the first time since having a baby. Here are a few ideas on how to handle your baby’s first holiday abroad.

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1. Manage your holiday expectations with a baby

It’s easy to expect holidays to go a certain way, even with an addition to the family. But all has changed now and you need to be realistic. You won’t be able to go on long treks over the mountains, or lie undisturbed reading a book on the beach anymore. Preparation is key, so you can manage the day (and night!) away from home. Find out as much as you can about your accommodation, facilities and local entertainment in advance so you can work out what you need to consider.

You may find getting your baby to sleep or nap a tad trickier in a new and different environment. Be ready to give extra comfort when they wake up disorientated and upset. I’m afraid they may also take a while to readjust when you get back! Some of you may get lucky with this and find they sleep really well away from home, especially if they get you close by in the same room.

2. Packing

I do miss the days of travelling light with just a carry on, but those days are over (see my post for packing a carry on only next time you can or share with others!). Babies seem to need a lot considering their size. If you already pile up the buggy for a normal trip out, imagine everything you’ll need now. Write out a good list in advance. You may need to buy some travel versions of things or borrow if you can.

For starters, you must consider your pram or stroller. If yours is a big heavy truck style (as my first pram was), it’s not going to travel well. Maybe look at borrowing a lighter one or buying a cheap travel one. My daughter was over 6 months when we travelled, so we had already upgraded to a Babyzen YOYO stroller which I loved and found easy and light. It was a delight to travel with too, as it folds up small enough to put over your shoulder and fits in the overhead cabin. This isn’t the cheapest option though, so look at other fold up strollers and consider second-hand or borrowing one.

If you’ve read my post on a baby sleep, you’ll know I love black out blinds. Check though in case your hotel provides them already which happened to me after lugging one there! My favourite black out blinds aren’t great for travel but I’d taken pegs to clip them to the curtains. Otherwise, friends of mine use the suction cup ones like these which are better for travel and will help your nights on baby’s first holiday abroad.

Remember though that you will be able to get most of what you need there. So you don’t need to pack a week’s supply of everything. You can just pack for the first couple of days when it comes to nappies, wipes and other bits. You can pack light if you are going to a warm place as you could always wash bits as needed.

Remember baby bowls, cups and bibs, if you’re at that stage. And of course, muslin cloths have a hundred uses. Don’t forget suntan cream, hat, swim nappies, sun protective swimwear and medications for your baby.

3. Prepare for the flight

Check in online, but also go and see the desk when you arrive. Sometimes they can arrange it so you have an extra seat for your baby (without paying of course, that starts at 2 years in the UK). It’s nice to have some breathing space and not annoy whoever has the bad luck of sitting next to you. If you don’t manage this, don’t stress; your baby will probably be on you the whole time anyway.

Our first flight was about 4 hours each way. She was small enough to still need regular naps but don’t panic if your baby cries through most of your flight. Yes, you might get dirty looks but there’s only so much you can do. I was either feeding or bobbing about with her and we just about managed.

Babies are too young to shove in front of a screen so avoiding overtired, cranky behaviour is key. If possible, look at booking flight times that will tie in well with their usual nap or bedtime. You or dad may need to pace the plane; bring a sling to make it easier. I love a stretchy Ergobaby wrap as it packs away easily.

4. Pick your accommodation carefully

Before having a child I would happily choose the cheapest self-catering option; I was hardly in the room anyway. Now I prefer to have the full list of facilities to make my life easier! Many of my mum friends still go for self-catering, but I’ve decided if you have to wash up dishes, it’s not a holiday.

After a lifetime of avoiding them, I have now embraced an all-inclusive package holiday! I can’t believe I consider family-friendly hotels now, but they are great if you have a little one. They have activities for all ages and the staff are extra patient. Even my fussy baby that was weaning accepted yummy fresh foods from the buffet selection. There was so much choice, I could find things even for her which I’d have struggled to with a standard menu.

You don’t need to go that far if you prefer more independence but do still consider if you’ll have restaurants and other essential facilities nearby. Also, consider your room set up. Self-catering may give you more options to chill while the baby sleeps if you have an apartment.

We managed with a large room divided up plus a balcony, so we could enjoy a drink outside while the baby slept. If you don’t have a little separate space, you will be forced to go to bed at the same time as your baby, but you might want the early night anyway!

Baby's first holiday abroad

5. Try not to do it alone

If you have a partner, you will be able to share the responsibility but what if you don’t? Try to ask or beg a family member or friend to come along with you. Alternately, can you pair up with another mum friend and make a group trip of it? It can be difficult to navigate certain parts of travel alone with a child but of course, people do every day so don’t panic. If you are alone, don’t be shy about asking for help with your bags or other bits.

If you are paired up, this will allow you to share out tasks of carrying and watching things, and also allow you to get a break. One can watch the baby while they nap, while the other enjoys some blissful me time. Some hotels offer baby clubs or babysitting services if you’re comfortable with that or sometimes there are childcare options where the baby is still within your sight. Of course, you might want to keep your first holiday to a place where you are visiting friends or family, so you don’t have to worry about this aspect!

6. Safety

Remember to consider extra safety measures. You won’t be in a child proofed room like at home. Think about what you can bring such as plug covers if your baby is crawling around and getting up to mischief. Liaise with your hotel or apartment in advance to check which facilities they have and ensure they provide a cot. Many provide travel cots that serve well as a bed and playpen by day.

It’s easier when they are babies as they will always be on you or in their pram. Once they start crawling and walking it’s a whole other story and they need to be watched constantly. Remember to take extra care in hot weather. Re-apply high enough SPF sun cream, make them wear a hat, keep them hydrated and safely in the shade. Babies can’t regulate their temperatures as well as adults, so need our close surveillance. This is your baby’s first holiday abroad so you don’t know how they will handle the heat and need to be cautious.

There you go, now feel prepared for your baby’s first holiday overseas!

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself! You can easily forget this with all the extra things to consider. Do find those windows to relax when you can. I actually wish I’d been able to travel more while my baby was small, it becomes so much challenging once they are walking around. Our baby’s first holiday abroad was much easier than when she was a year older and causing chaos. Travelling with a toddler is a completely different story! Read the post on how to travel with a toddler by plane next!

After having a baby, you deserve any kind of break you can get. Your baby will love all the new stimulation and distraction a new environment provide. Take plenty of pictures. You will look back and remember your baby’s first holiday abroad with such fondness! Wishing you lots of luck and laughter on your baby’s first holiday abroad!

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